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Engel Remarks on Efforts to Fight Tuberculosis

ENGEL REMARKS ON EFFORTS TO FIGHT TUBERCULOSIS

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WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee hearing on drug resistant tuberculosis, and U.S. efforts to fight this global health crisis:

“Okay, that’s better.  Thank you.  Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I also want to thank our Ranking Member Congresswoman Bass, and our witnesses for appearing here today.

“I’m the Ranking Member of the entire Committee, of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but also have done a lot of work on the fight against tuberculosis.  It’s been a priority for me for a long time.  So many people around the world needlessly suffer from this disease.  And investing in diagnosis and treatment helps build healthier communities in the developing world.  Something I tried to achieve through the Stop TB Now Act, much of which became law in 2008.  And we know that healthier communities are stronger and more prosperous.  So, for me this is a foreign policy priority, as well as a global health priority.

“We’d like to think of tuberculosis as a disease quickly becoming part of the past.  And after all, we’ve made wonderful strides in the fight against TB.  But, between 2000 and 2014, effective diagnosis and treatment accounted for 43 million lives saved. That’s great.  Since I came to Congress nearly 27 years ago, the worldwide TB death rate has dropped by nearly 50 percent.  And here in the US, the number of annual deaths due to TB has dropped by two thirds just since 1992.  And we know how to diagnose this disease.  We know how to cure it.  So in some ways, we seem to be headed in the right direction when it comes to wiping out tuberculosis. 

“But the reality, however, is that TB has become the number one infectious killer worldwide.  One and a half million people—including 140,000 children—died from TB last year.  And during that same period, nearly 10 million people became infected with the disease, and nearly half a million developed multidrug-resistant TB.  And we know people fighting HIV/AIDS also are very prone to getting TB as well.

“So while we’ve made real progress fighting tuberculosis, we need to stay focused and finish the job.  So I thank you, Doctor, for all the good work that you do.  Obviously, we need to be clear-eyed about the challenge that remains, set ambitious goals, and do what it takes to reach these aims. 

“And, for example, I’m glad that the U.N. included the fight against TB in its Sustainable Development Goals.  Ending the global TB epidemic by 2030 won’t be easy, but it’s a good first step that the UN is prioritizing this effort.

“And let me just say, finally, as a co-chair of the TB Elimination Caucus, I’ll continue talking about this issue and pushing for a robust investment in TB research and treatment.  I’m pleased that this Subcommittee is taking the time to examine this problem.  I look forward to a good discussion.  I thank you for your partnership.  Doctor, thank you and all the other people, even in the audience, who’ve worked so hard, and made this a priority in their lives. I yield back.”